The Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) is hoping to give the nation's 167,000-plus independent vehicle service and repair businesses a voice through its new Independent Service Providers (ISP) segment.
``The entire aftermarket depends on the folks in the trenches who sell and install parts and service and repair the 232 million motor vehicles in this country,'' said David Caracci, AAIA chair. ``These professionals are feeling increased pressures to not just remain competitive and profitable, but to stay in business.
``Today, no organization fully represents the interests of the 167,000-plus independent service and repair businesses that are not affiliated with new car dealerships,'' he said, noting that the ISP should provide them a national platform to serve and protect their interests.
Mr. Caracci announced the creation of the ISP at the conclusion of the AAIA Town Hall during the recent Automotive Aftermarket Parts Exhibition in Las Vegas.
``AAIA is the only national trade association that vertically integrates the entire aftermarket distribution channel from manufacturers to distributors, reps, program groups and retailers,'' said Kathleen Schmatz, president and CEO of Bethesda, Md.-based AAIA.
``Connecting with maintenance and repair companies is logical, necessary and in the best interest of our members and the aftermarket industry as a whole. The ISP segment completes the circle at AAIA.''
AAIA said it will rely on the input and participation of various industry groups, in particular state aftermarket associations and program groups.
``We want to be absolutely clear that the new segment is non-competitive and non-threatening to current AAIA member program groups, franchises and state and regional associations,'' Ms. Schmatz said. ``In fact, the ISP segment will actually reinforce and complement our existing small business affiliate program and reinforce the value of AAIA membership to all group members.''
The new forum will establish more direct access to independent service providers for the execution of critical grassroots legislative efforts, the adoption of technology standards and participation in the ``Be Car Care Aware'' consumer education campaign, Ms. Schmatz said.
The ISP segment will be governed by volunteer leaders with experience, knowledge and a track record of activism in the repair and maintenance arena. The AAIA will engage a cross-section of the industry with its goal being to build a legitimate and responsive national community that serves and protects the interests of independent service providers.
``The pressure points for service and repair companies are technological, demographic, legislative, regulatory and managerial with increased competition from new car dealers seeking to capture a greater share of service and repair business,'' Mr. Caracci said.